Ontario Chamber of Commerce policy analyst Liam McGuinty, SHIFT president Nathan Lawrence and Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce chairman Michael Nitz say SHIFT has become a model for other communities.
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Nathan Lawrence and Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce chairman Michael Nitz say SHIFT has become a model for other communities.
When Liam McGuinty was tasked to find ways to attract younger members to the province’s chamber of commerce network, one name kept popping up.
“SHIFT kept coming up again and again and again as an innovative and a very big network that had a powerful voice in their community,” said the policy analyst for the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
SHIFT – Thunder Bay’s Young Professional Network has grown over the past three years to now include more than 1,200 members in Thunder Bay and the surrounding area. It’s a success story that’s been spreading across the province and now might become a model for other Ontario communities.
And after hearing how successful the organization has become, McGuinty made sure to include Thunder Bay as one of his five regional roundtable stops in the province.
“What I’ve learned is that SHIFT has a very engaged membership. They have a polished, professional network that is diverse and that is something that’s very novel in the communities we’ve consulted with,” he said.
“What we’re trying to figure out is how we can take this successful model SHIFT has created and see if we can transplant it across the province because it’s a solid template for how a young professional network should be run.”
SHIFT isn’t just for business owners and managers in Thunder Bay, but for any young professional who takes pride in their job and in the community. That includes tradespersons, teachers, health care professionals, government workers, social workers, anyone.
SHIFT president Nathan Lawrence said the group’s main focus is engaging the younger demographic in Thunder Bay in the community. Members have clocked hours of volunteer work with various organizations and the organization also works as a youth retention tool.
“We’re surrounded by an incredible environment, access to all the major services that most every other major urban centre has but we have a lot of benefits,” he said.
“SHIFT (helps) with that quality of life aspect by creating that network of people that work together to create a community that’s prospering, that’s moving forward and looking to the future,” Lawrence added.
Past president of SHIFT and Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce chairman Michael Nitz said he’s excited about SHIFT’s success in engaging the community and providing a voice for young residents of Thunder Bay.
“It’s been amazing to watch it grow as an organization,” he said. “We have more than 1,200 members now so there’s a lot of manpower behind it and there’s lots of people out there who want to see Thunder Bay become the great city we all see it as being and know it can be someday.
“We are really excited about taking the SHIFT model and looking at a provincial opportunity to do that,” Nitz said, adding it’ll be an opportunity to provide best practices and help others thrives.
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